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WV Supreme Court upholds board's refusal to parole convicted kidnapper

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A Huttonsville Correctional Center inmate convicted of kidnapping couldn't convince the state supreme court the parole board erred in denying him parole.

The inmate, Grant E. Ericksen, had pleaded guilty in Kanawha County to kidnapping in exchange for charges of first degree sexual assault, attempted murder and violating a protective order being dismissed. In his petition, the court said Ericksen described the victim of his crime as "the mother of my child."

Ericksen, sentenced to life in prison with a recommendation of mercy, was denied parole in October 2012 because the board felt his "continued incarceration will serve to protect society from possible future violence."

In particular, the parole board suggested Ericksen's disciplinary record while he was behind bars demonstrated an unwillingness to re-enter society, citing Ericksen's 15 disciplinary infractions during a 12-month period, as well as overwhelming community sentiment against his release.

Ericksen subsequently requested access to the information on which the parole board predicated its decision, but the board chairman refused because the disclosure would invade the privacy of the persons who had submitted commented and "would interfere with the sentiment process."

The parole board chairman also noted that Ericksen had been written up for fighting on at least five occasions prior to his hearing, including once instance where he attacked an industry superintendent at the prison.The man suffered serious medical complications, the court said.

Ericksen subsequently challenged the parole board's decision as well as its refusal to tell him who had commented on his potential parole, claiming he had a right to that information, but a Randolph County Circuit Court judge disagreed.

On appeal the state supreme court also ruled against Ericksen, saying that with his checkered disciplinary record, he couldn't prove the comments had hurt his chances of parole.

"While the board rated community and official sentiment as 'extremely negative,' petitioner's poor prison disciplinary record and propensity toward violence alone provided a sufficient basis from which the board could deny parole," the justices stated.